“Sudden Comfort”–flash fiction, Difficult People

Sudden Comfort



          Madness had come on gradually.

          There’s no accounting for really bad taste, she would say to her silent self, look at the slug I married.

          You don’t mean that he’d say, with his sad eyes.

          She’d smile…for his sake. But for her the mornings were tough, all that fresh energy, the sea around them choppy, storm warnings, flags flapping, and the growl of Italian motorcycles on distant roads brought sudden hope and then a cascade of cold fear sickened her, like the silvery sickly white skins of salmon swimming upstream to mate and die.

          That’s what he called life, she’d remind herself, standing on the porch and staring out at the dark green sea, a bruise against her retinas. And then that set off the unhappiness, oh, the blues came flowing in, like a tide filled with bizarre creatures –nature’s bounty—it never stopped and gripping the stairs, she made her way timorously into sanctuaries around the house where she could find some peace, escaping the fear, the haunting shadow of the death pre-lived, all these years, shadowing each day, blessed sleep a failed escape, and the grinding poverty of a life of fear…and slowly, the mistakes, the embarrassments, the whole sad business winding down…

          And then like a miracle the light on the page of print changed colors, yellow, golden, violet…and pink the color of life; and someone steady came home midday, someone who would make coffee…dark and rich with a jolt of caffeine, and out there cruising along the mountain road, the one that skirts the mountain with the old folks home surmounting the white stone village sparkling below, the peninsula shrouded in misty wraiths, yes, there it was…the prodigal friend, the burble of his tinny Vespa cycle, more and more, almost always, a sudden comfort.




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